All Articles Tagged "is marriage for christians"
Sometime during the national conversation on Single Black Women, someone hypothesized that the Black church keeps women single. I thought that was pretty ridiculous considering 95% of the black married women I know, I know from church. In fact, it seems to me that religion is much more important in judging a person’s chances for marriage than race. The link between being a Christian and getting married in a timely fashion was something I noticed years ago.
After high school, I went to a Bible college for a year. At that college, there was a huge emphasis placed on marriage and seemed to be the primary (or a close secondary) purpose for being there. It wasn’t just the women either who seemed intent on “marrying a pastor” it was the men too who would approach women announcing “God said you’re my wife.” Sound creepy? That’s because it is.
I remember telling a staff member that I refused to cook in the dorm’s community kitchen…or anywhere else for that matter. Shocked, she said “Well what are you going to do when you get a husband?” She asked it so urgently as though she had said, “Well what are you going to eat for dinner?” I was eighteen and not even thinking about marriage tat hat time, but I guess she automatically assumed I was angling for a husband because so many people around me were foaming at the mouth to get married. In fact, some members of the administration had begun calling it “ring by Spring” mocking the high percentage of students who came in the Fall semester and ended up engaged or married by the end of Spring semester.
When I left Bible college after one year, I attended a state university. There, the game was totally different. In fact, nobody talked about marriage, ever. It was refreshing to date guys without one dropping the “God told me you are (or are not) my wife” bomb on an otherwise great night. It was nice to have conversations with women without one declaring she hoped to marry her crush, despite having never been on a single date with him. I had recently broken up with my Bible college boyfriend and he was the last person for a while to ever bring up marriage as something on his short-term goal list.
I could have easily chalked the difference up to the fact that Bible college was a place for aspiring ministers and, like politicians, pastors are expected to have wives. But it wasn’t just those pursuing a pulpit that were getting married left and right.
While I was at the state university, Facebook was opened to people who were in college and those who weren’t. As a result, I found out that many of my parochial high school classmates had skipped higher education and went straight for “Wife Life” and some even had children. I was stunned. All of that before their 21st birthday? It was then that I noticed the stark contrast between my college friends and my friends from my hometown.
Most of my friends from home were friends from church and if they weren’t married then they weren’t shy about wanting to get married. Most of these friends (guys and girls) were either virgins or celibate. In contrast, my friends from college were about their business and romance was mostly relegated to the sidelines. Both the men and the women seemed engrossed in the risky game of who can have the most sex with the most people while suffering the least consequences in the form of pregnancy, STD’s and/or emotional pain.
After graduation, I went back home and, still addicted to Facebook, I noticed that more than a few college acquaintences I’d known from Campus Crusade for Christ walked off the graduation stage and down the wedding aisle. Here I was trying to find my first post-college job and these girls who had graduated the year before me were posting pics of themselves flanked by an adoring husband cradling a newborn baby. A friend and I used to joke that we should have spent more time at Campus Crusade for Christ meetings and less time at the library.
As time went on, I noticed that most of my church friends who were in serious, committed relationships rarely dated for more than two years without popping the question. Many of my non-church friends who were in serious relationships were living together and dating for four and five years without getting engaged. Of course, there are Christian couples who live together and/or date forever without getting married and non-Christian couples who don’t live together and/or got married in a timely fashion. I just noticed that there was a marked difference in terms of proportion among the people I know. Like, Stanford professor Ralph Richards Banks asked in his famous book, “Is Marriage For White People?”, I wonder is marriage for Christians?
The evidence to support my theory that Christians are more likely to get married and get married young is strictly anecdotal, but the statistics back up my experience. While the majority of Americans walk the aisle eventually, according to Christianity Today, a whopping 84% of Christians marry and the average age is 25.
By “Christians” they mean “couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples.”
These Christians, they also found, enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.
While churches don’t explicitly command “get married”, it seems the culture promotes it among attendees. And while many factors play into getting married including economic status, educational accomplishments and even race it seems the common denominator among the largest group of married folk under 30 is the fact that they’re Christian.
I’m not suggesting that anyone jump in the Jesus Jetta because they think their future husband is riding in it. Jesus is not passing out marriage licenses. I’m just thinking, considering the fact that most Christians are African-Americans, then maybe we’re not so “doomed to be single” after all.
What do you think? Do you think religion plays a big part in whether or not people get married? Have you noticed Christians people you know getting married young or at a higher rate?
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